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South Africa

Marcus, Jutten & Vondeling Islands

Michelle du Toit

Marcus Island

Marcus Island is situated within the West Coast National Park in Saldanha Bay about 1.2 km s outh of Hoedjies Point. This 11 ha island has sparse vegetation and is littered with boulders. A causeway stretches 2 km from the island to the mainland and was built as part of the development of the harbour in 1976. This causeway allows terrestrial predators onto the island.

Apart from African Penguins, Marcus Island supports breeding populations of Bank, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants as well as Swift Terns.

Jutten Island

Part of the West Coast National Park, Jutten Island is situated at the southern entrance to Saldanha Bay, 800 m from Jut Point. The island covers 46 ha and is fairly flat except for two small hills. The highest point is 60 m above sea level, the highest for any of the West Coast islands. Numerous large boulders are scattered everywhere, while the smaller ones have been packed into walls to facilitate historical guano harvesting. Vegetation is sparse.

Jutten Island supports substantial proportions of the global populations of the African Black Oystercatcher, Kelp Gull and Swift Tern. Other seabirds breeding on this island include Crowned, Cape and Bank Cormorants, as well as Hartlaub’s Gulls. A few Leach’s Storm Petrels nest in the dry stone walls. Just over 1% of the global African Penguin population nest on Jutten Island.

Jutten Island
Photo Marienne de Villiers
Jutten Island

Vondeling Island

Vondeling island (21 ha) is low-lying and rocky, with few beaches. Boulders are scattered around the coast and a wall runs around the perimeter of the island, with ramps for penguins to access the interior. European Rabbits became extinct at the island in 1992. The island was last occupied in 1962, and the buildings are now used by penguins and other birds.

The island often supports a large breeding population of Cape Cormorants, and small numbers of Kelp Gulls, Swift Terns, Bank and Crowned Cormorants. It is also the breeding site for over 4% of the global African Black Oystercatcher population, and over 1% of the global African Penguin population.

Vondeling Island
Photo Marienne de Villiers
Vondeling Island